Vegetarian grub that avoids the usual cliches
Where? Vanilla Black, 17-18 Tooks Court, London EC4A 1LB (020 7242 2622, vanillablack.co.uk)
What’s the deal? Going out to prove that vegetarian food doesn’t have to be bland or boring, Vanilla Black aims to deliver quality grub (sans meat) that flies in the face of token veggie options.
But I’m not a vegetarian! According to husband-and-wife owners Andrew and Donna Dargue, it doesn’t matter, because the combination of ingredients and creativity of the dishes are designed to win over even the most insistent of meat eaters. Believe us, there are no three words quite as blasphemous here as goat’s, cheese and tart.
Recommended? The starter of Bubble & Squeak Cakes with Vintage Cheddar, Homemade Brown Sauce, Creamed Cabbage and Shallots was divine, if not as ambitious as our main course of Poached Duck Egg and Ribblesdale Pudding with Hickory Smoked Potato Croquettes and Pineapple Pickle. The Mushroom Duxelle Torte was also a popular item – think a thick mushroom pate in a wrap fashioned from pastry and served with Burgundy Sauce, Button Onions and Veg.
What did you love about it? Though portions were delicate, the food was really elegant, as were the interiors, decked out in 30s art-deco style. As promised, the flavours were exciting, bold and refreshingly unapologetic – a revelation for veggie foodies who are bored by sub-standard stuffed peppers and risottos.
Are the desserts as quirky? There were some unique options, like Gin and Summer Berry soup, but also hearty, more traditional winter indulgences, from Lemon Meringue Pie to Sticky Toffee Pudding. We were also confident the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Parfait (a ‘posh snickers’) would round off the meal perfectly.
Would you go back? Yes. The ultimate delight would be to take a veggie friend, but it seems even my boyfriend, the unashamed steak worshipper, was more than impressed.